Why aren’t young Catholics marrying? – Catholic World Report

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Here are four of the most important lesser-known obstacles to marriage that devout Catholics face today.

(Brooke Cagle @brookecagle/Unsplash.com)

We all know that marriage rates are low in the United States. The most recent American Family Survey found that only 45% of Americans are currently married (down from 50% in 2015).

Despite the Church’s pro-marriage stance, Catholic marriage rates are not much higher than the general population. In 2014, while about 50% of Americans overall were married, the USCCB reported that about 54% of Catholic adults were married. Those Catholics who do marry, marry at older and older ages.

It’s easy to assume that the other half of Catholics, like the rest of the world, are cohabiting and fornicating instead of marrying. But this is only one part of the story. Practicing Catholics who are living by the Church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality still face enormous hurdles to achieving marriage.

In late 2021, I took an anonymous survey of 300 self-identified practicing Catholics ages 18-39, asking them about obstacles they faced to marriage. The responses, combined with many personal conversations and my own experiences (I am 27, single, and have lived in a devout Catholic family and community since age four) show that the struggles of single Catholics today are substantial, but not always the type of struggles that most Catholics in the older generations expect.

This article will describe four of the most important lesser-known obstacles to marriage that devout Catholics face. A follow-up piece will propose solutions.

Dysfunctional Discernment

When asked what hindered them from marrying sooner, many respondents mentioned they had spent time considering religious life or priesthood—or, as one respondent put it, fearing they were called to the religious life or priesthood.

Hypothetically, entering seminary or the novitiate for a time can be a very good thing for someone who ultimately marries: openness to God’s will and rigorous spiritual formation are good qualities in a spouse, too. But, in reality, devout young adults—even not-so-young adults, in their late twenties and thirties—often get stuck in discernment, unable to commit either to marriage, priesthood, or religious life for fear they might actually be called to a different vocation.

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Why aren’t young Catholics marrying? – Catholic World Report

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